NTBCC minutes – Monday 14 November 2016

Minutes of the meeting of New Town and Broughton Community Council, held in the Drummond Room, Broughton St Mary’s Church, Bellevue Crescent on Monday 14 November 2016 at 7.30pm

1 Attendance and apologies for absence

Susanna Beaumont NTBCC Richard Price NTBCC planning convenor
Judy Conn NTBCC secretary Christine Ross NTBCC
Kanimozhi Devanathan NTBCC Alan Welsh NTBCC
Jonathan Finn NTBCC treasurer/licensing convenor Bruce Ryan Minutes secretary
Stephen Hajducki NTBCC Cllr Joanna Mowat City Centre ward
Andrew Haddow NTBCC Deidre Brock MP Edinburgh North & Leith
Jack Hugh NTBCC Alan McIntosh Broughton Spurtle
Allan Jack NTBCC transport convenor John Ross McClean Broughton Spurtle
Ian Mowat NTBCC chair Foysol Choudhury ELREC
Carol Nimmo NTBCC PC Heather Clark Police Scotland
Lewis Press NTBCC environment convenor PC Leo Coleman Police Scotland
Stewart McAllister NTBCC 17 residents

1.1 Apologies for absence

Lauren Stewart NTBCC Cllr Lesley Hinds Inverleith ward
Fran Wasoff NTBCC Cllr Alasdair Rankin City Centre ward
Cllr Marion Donaldson Leith Walk ward Ben MacPherson MSP Edinburgh Northern & Leith
Cllr Karen Doran City Centre ward

2 Minutes of meeting of 10 October 2016 and matters arising

Approved nem con (proposed R Price, seconded J Finn)

3 Police

PCs Clark and Coleman are 2 of 8 community beat officers based at the West End station. (Police Scotland now has CBOs who focus on community matters, and response officers.)

These statistics are for Edinburgh city centre in October:

  • 17 assaults reported, 9 solved
  • 1 serious assault reported, 1 solved
  • 12 business break-ins reported, 3 solved
  • 3 attempted domestic break-ins reported, 1 solved

3.1 Residents’ concerns

3.1.1 Homelessness and begging in city centre

Police Scotland (PS) are working with Edinburgh Council (CEC) to help solve this, patrolling hotspots each morning to deal with crime and handing out information on where support can be obtained. There will be an operation next month with the UK Borders Agency about homeless foreign nationals. (They will be treated according to whether they were trafficked here or come voluntarily.) There has been some reduction in rough sleeping but PS has no specific power to prevent begging. (They can act on trespass or nuisance etc.)

Action: PS to provide update in December

3.1.2 Noise and nuisance from 'party flats

Such concerns included some flats in North East Cumberland Street Lane, and the potential for flats in the RBS development to become party flats. PS monitor (and act on) noise complaints to understand whether issues are persistent. Cllr Mowat noted that a report on short-stay service apartments is due in early 2017, and that legislation now empowered more enforcement options – but this legislation is yet to be tested. Also, conditions need to be built into the start of the planning process. If these flats are being run as businesses, they should be taxed at business rates. It was noted that NTBCC had not previously commented on HMO applications, and that landlords need to be registered.

Action: NTBCC to reconsider this matter, once the CEC report is available, in February 2017

3.2 Local policing priorities survey

Everyone is encouraged to give their opinions at http://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/decision-making/public-consultation/local-policing-consultation

4 Transport

  • The agenda item on Leith Walk (LW) has been put back to early 2017, partly due to plans being currently incomplete. Information on delays in patching LW road surfaces is available on Leith Central CC's website. R Price suggested that NTBCC asks for an extension for commenting on the TRO for Montgomery St because the full picture currently unclear – closing access to this street would affect traffic to its north. A CEC official has said that lack of clarity is partly due to lack of decision over trams on LW.
  • Demolition at the St James Centre has started. Rubble is being transported via LW.
  • There was concern that individual plans for the whole St James/Leith Walk are not being considered holistically.

5 Planning

5.1 Royal Bank of Scotland development

The application was submitted late last week, and is summarised in the Broughton Spurtle. The application has two parts: one for approval in principle, another for demolition of unlisted buildings in a conservation area. There have been few changes from previous plans, apart from dealing with previously undiscovered sewers, hence the space between proposed blocks H and J. Features include

  • Level -2 is car-parking only
  • Level -1 is King George V (KGV) park and the current RBS car-park. There would be 8 storeys from this level. There would be 527 parking spaces in total.
  • Levels 1 to 3: buildings go up vertically
  • Levels 4 to 6: the levels stagger away from Fettes Row and KGV park.
  • Block K is now very close to the development boundary with KGV park.
  • Total floor area is about 47,000 m2, but the developers have applied for class uses which exceed this, so they have many options, e.g. some retail on Eyre Place and Dundas Street, offices, hotel, care-home, all of the development to residential. (NTBCC’s planning convenor suggests that 100% residential would add nothing to the area, by removing many jobs from the area – there should be flexibility.)
  • Number of housing units has increased from 300 to 400 since the previous plan was published.
  • The traffic assessment says there would be a marginal increase in traffic flows from the site even if it became 100% residential (125 per hour to 135 per hour). (It was questioned whether the developers have considered other developments due in this area, and suggested that the current traffic is due to business – residential use would smooth peaks in traffic flows.)

The deadline for comments and objections is probably 16 December. (NTBCC next meets on 11 December.)

5.1.1 NTBCC and residents’ concerns

These included

  • Allowing demolition in a conservation area before detailed plans have been submitted/approved. Cllr Mowat responded that which this is allowable but poor practice, CEC’s planning committee is likely to be strict about it.
  • Lack of consideration of other options. It was suggested that loss of many jobs in this area would cause issues. Cllr Mowat responded that there must be a city-wide economic assessment in the detailed application.
  • Apparent lack of geological survey (GS). It was suggested that the new proposed positions of blocks may reduce dangers of subsidence. It was suggested approaching Edinburgh Geological Survey. However, it was noted that the site is on a flood plane. There are currently issues with noise at night from sewage/water works. Cllr Mowat responded that the detailed application would need to include a GS, and that CEC would be very unlikely to grant final permission without a favourable GS.
  • Unfitting shapes and sizes of proposed blocks. NTBCC’s opinion is that the blocks would be two storeys too high. Blocks E and F may be too close. It was suggested that objections should be based on the Edinburgh plan.
  • Confusion over boundaries: Edinburgh World Heritage includes this area in the New Town but the developers do not, so that non-traditional developments are allowable in this site (in the developers’ opinion).
  • Infrastructure. It was noted that all GPs in the area are fully subscribed, but that the class uses applied for include GP offices. Cllr Mowat responded that CEC would consider this and pressures on schools etc very carefully. The local development plan is due to come into force very soon.

Action: NTBCC to liaise with Royal Crescent residents’ association when writing objections.

5.2 Royal High School site

There was a public presentation about the hotel proposal on 3rd November. The deadline for objections is 17 November. The new plans propose 1 storey less than in previous plans. It was suggested that the presentation was very basic and so potentially misleading. R Price suggested commenting on this PAN, rather than immediately going to the Scottish Government, and that NTBCC should insist that its comments are in the pre-consultation report. (They were omitted in the previous version.) It was suggested that the business case is now weaker because the hotel would have fewer rooms, but the developers previously said that it needed more rooms to break even.

5.3 George Street bus shelters

NTBCC has submitted an objection following October’s discussion, but this isn’t currently on CEC’s planning portal. There are currently 5 public comments against these shelters but 6 supporting them.

5.4 Heriot Hill

This application had been refused at every level in the planning process but the Reporter has permitted it, albeit with conditions that arguably should have been in the planning applications. Work has now started on this development. It was queried why no geological survey had been done at the start of the process.

6 Environment

NTBCC environment committee is L Press, C Ross, J Conn, C Millar, J Finn, A Jack, K Devanathan, S McAllister

L Press is waiting on information on a 65-point action plan presented to CEC environment committee. He welcomes comments on street cleaning. (A resident stated that there have been no leaf or rubbish collections in East London Street.) Use of gull-proof bags and plastic bin-bags are to be reviewed.

It was queried why work on the granite setts in Howe Street is taking so long. Cllr Mowat responded that it has been found that more work is needed than had previously been realised.

7 Licensing

NTBCC’s Licensing convener reported that there are 2 new applications this month:

  • Brotique (39 Queen Street) – off-sales only
  • 3a Queensferry St (formerly BrewLab coffee) – off-sales only

There are also 2 variations

  • Hudson Hotel, 7-11 Hope Street – to allow children and to open earlier on Sundays)
  • The Ox, 49-51 London St (corner of Broughton St) – to allow children

NTBCC’s Licensing convener sees no reason to object to any of these.

This month sees the first premises seeking to change their licences from saying music in neighbouring premises must be inaudible to saying that it must not be an audible nuisance. Seven (six on Cowgate, the other is Studio 24 on Calton Rd) are in the Old Town and one in Newhaven. NTBCC’s Licensing convener suggested that these applications would all be uncontested, and that this will set a precedent for many more. They are a mixture of live music venues and clubs with DJs and no live music, yet the change was supposed to be about supporting live music.

8 Neighbourhood Partnerships

Action: C Ross to represent NTBCC at NP meetings. (C Miller to be substitute representative)

Action: J Conn to represent NTBCC at Stockbridge and Inverleith CC.

It was suggested that NTBCC might also be in Leith and Inverleith NPs.

9 Community Council committees

I Mowat suggested creating a Comms Group. I Mowat, L Stewart, C Miller, S McAllister, R Price and B Ryan volunteered.

10 Activities of Local Street or Amenity Associations

No items

11 Any other business

Action: NTBCC to adopt CEC’s model constitution and standing orders as first order of business in December

Action: L Press to represent NTBCC at the forthcoming Edinburgh Association of CCs AGM.

  • CEC training for new community councillors is on 3 December.
  • I Mowat had attended an Edinburgh World Heritage (EWH) workshop. EWH is creating a new management plan: the major issue is insufficient control in development in the EWH area, along with needs to ‘educate’ CEC, developers and contracters. A draft plan is due from CEC in early 2017.
  • Anna Herriman of CEC is due to reconvene the George Street stakeholder group.
  • There is a meeting about energy conservation in traditional buildings at the Royal Scots club at 5:30 on 17 November, and a similar event run by EWH on 25 November.
  • There is a move for recognition of a historical Hugenot area (to be called ‘Picardy Village’ around Picardy Place. (There is some relevant information in The Scotsman.)